Matched is written by Ally Condie. It was published in 2010 by Dutton Books. It is the first in a trilogy. Condie’s website can be found here.
“In the Society, Officials decide.
Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.”
“There is a system, of course, to the Matching. In City Halls across the country, all filled with people, the Matches are announced in alphabetical order according to the girls’ last names. I feel slightly sorry for the boys, who have no idea when their names will be called, when they must stand for girls in other City Halls to receive them as Matches. Since my last name is Reyes, I will be somewhere at the end of the middle. The beginning of the end.”
“Today is Sunday. It is Grandfather’s eightieth birthday, so tonight he will die.
….All the studies show that the best age to die is eighty. It’s long enough that we can have a complete life experience, but not so long that we feel useless. That’s one of the worst feelings the elderly can have. In societies before ours, they could get terrible diseases, like depression, because they didn’t feel needed anymore. And there is a limit to what the Society can do, too. We can’t hold off all the indignities of aging much past eighty. Matching for healthy genes can only take us so far.
Things didn’t used to be this fair. In the old days, not everyone died at the same age and there were all kinds of problems and uncertainty. You could die anywhere—on the street, in a medical center as my grandmother did, even on an air train. You could die alone.
No one should die alone.”
“The very first line stops me in my tracks and brings tears to my eyes and I don’t know why except that this one line speaks to me as nothing else ever has.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
I read on, through words I do not understand and ones that I do.
I know why it spoke to Grandfather:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
And as I read on, I know why it speaks to me:
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
First of all, Condie has set up a perfect example of what would happen if eugenics took over society. I learned a bit about eugenics over the summer, so this book was very real to me. The society described was more realistic than that of The Hunger Games or Divergent; that is, realistic in the sense that it could actually happen (and has happened: here’s an article from the Boston Globe and one from the European Union Times in Europe). I was more able to relate to the setting, to see just how far wrong things have gone, and to the characters, living in this society and suffering for it.
Condie’s writing is very lyrical and poetic. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas is a central part of the story and Condie does wonderful things with the poem and Cassia’s reactions to it. It is beautifully-written.
Plot-wise, it is very much a first book and doesn’t accomplish much. There is very little action (fighting or battle action, anyway), unlike The Hunger Games or Divergent (this is not a criticism of any of these books; I am using them as a contrasting example so one can get a better feel of exactly what I mean). The plot is more romantically- and character-driven than anything else. However, this is very well suited to the setting; in fact, any heavy action scenes would most likely have seemed out of place in such a controlled society.
What I Didn’t Like:
It drags in places, which is probably due to the little amount of action.
Matched is a beautifully-written novel about a society that may be closer than one might think. It’s more of a love story than anything else, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you wanting more (such as the next book, Crossed).
Coming Up Next: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood